“Bottas used as a pawn by Mercedes in Bahrain”: Former F1 driver claims Finn largely to blame

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas finished the opening race of the 2021 season in third position at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

He scored 16 points owing to the extra one he gained for completing the quickest lap.

While this is usually not cause for concern, Bottas was visibly distraught following the completion of the event.

The Finn finished many seconds behind both teammate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. For all his attempts to make up time and cover up the distance, he was unable to make any real splash in the race, finishing a distant third.

Mercedes had told him that he would be staying out for longer, but pitted him just two laps after Hamilton.

“From my side, the strategy was too much on the defensive side instead of attacking, which I was quite surprised of,” Bottas said.

“We will review everything, but I feel we were more passive than aggressive with the strategy in the end.

“I wanted to stay out longer in the middle stint on fresher tyres but it wouldn’t have made much difference in the end.”

Jenson Button believes Bottas was used as a “pawn” by Mercedes during the race, but argued that it was largely owing to how the Finnish driver just didn’t seem to have the pace.

“I think his pace compared to Lewis was a little bit off,” Button told Sky Sports F1.

“That always hurts when you see your teammate pulling off into the distance.

“And he was also used as a little bit of a pawn during the race so Max would follow his lead during pit stops.

“It’s a little bit of tricky one [for him] because you know he’s going to be on the back foot in terms of the pit stops.

“But also the pace wasn’t quite there. It’s not been an easy race for him and I don’t think it fills him full of confidence for race two.

“That was the first time he’s looked unhappy with the way things have gone for the team.”

Former F1 driver Paul di Resta admitted that Bottas publicly voicing his discontentment with Mercedes’ strategy has put pressure on the team.

“Bottas was very vocal about it,” di Resta said.

“That’s going to put pressure on the team.”

Bottas has been vocal about the fact that he wants Mercedes to allow him to be a bit more selfish as he hopes to stake a claim for the Formula 1 driver’s title this season.

Read more: Verstappen blasts Red Bull control room on instruction – “Why didn’t you just let me go?”

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